Top Tips to Keep Children Safe Online

These days, along with all of the above, we are having to educate and protect our children from dangers that come from within our own homes, from their own toys and devices. Toys and devices that we have bought them.

28/04/2022

 

As parents we think we have it covered when it comes to protecting our kids. We teach them right from wrong and how to call 999 in an emergency. We teach them about stranger danger and enrol them into karate lessons to ensure that they have the simple tools to defend themselves, should they ever be in a situation where they need to physically protect themselves. But in this day and age, that no longer seems to cut the mustard! The internet is everywhere, we cannot escape it. Our children use it in school, at home, and as a form of socialising with their friends.

My husband and I had a conversation when my daughter was born (she is now nearly nine and my son is nearly seven) where we decided that we would just not allow our children to have any form of internet based toy or device until they were much older- I think we agreed on 18 at the time, only to have the tablet strapped to the back of the passenger head rest playing a well know children's TV app for every car journey we took no matter how short, from when my daughter was three months old. Oh, how the mighty fall...

Fast forward to two years later, my daughter has now become well versed in all things tablet. She can recite the alphabet perfectly, albeit in an American accent. Her fine motor skills are on point, due to the amount of scrolling she does to access all of her many apps, and I am satisfied that I have done the correct amount of due diligence to ensure that all of her apps are child friendly and kiddie safe.

One day, my daughter was playing on the floor and I had popped her favourite children's TV app on her tablet while I folded the laundry and did a few chores. Peppa Pig was playing and I realised after about thirty minutes or so that Peppa didn't sound quite right, so I looked at the tablet. I am sure you can all relate, but I tend not to actually watch the shows my children have on the TV or on their tablets. My son has watched about one hundred episodes of paw patrol, I could not tell you a single name of one of the characters.

I looked at my daughter's tablet and to my horror, Peppa had a stream of blood gushing out each of her eyes, holding up a knife and trying to inflict serious harm on poor daddy pig! What?! This was a child friendly, kiddie safe app! I was horrified! She watched Peppa Pig all the time on this particular children's TV app, how many times had she watched similar inappropriate stories, all while I was with her in the very same room? It made me realise just how quietly dangerous the internet can really be, and how conscious as parents we need to be when allowing our children to use it.

I have since wisened up to the reality that the internet although great for many things, when it comes to my children, is something I allow with caution and I ensure that I am truly present whenever they are on it. Many sites claim to be kiddie safe, and many are. However, there are some very clever individuals who are able to infiltrate even the safest app and device in order to do harm.

Top Tips for Internet Safety:

  • Always ensure that you check the age rating of any apps or games to make sure they are age appropriate.
  • Ensure that you always have the latest version of the app installed as this will have the most up to date security settings.
  • Use the app yourself for a few minutes to ensure that you are comfortable with its contents.
  • Think twice about whether it is necessary and appropriate for children to be using the chat function on games and apps.
  • Ensure that your child is aware and comfortable with you checking up on what they are doing from time to time, be this checking their chat logs or watching them play their games.
  • If you do allow chatting and interacting on line with others, only allow this with friends or family that you know and trust.
  • Never leave your child unattended when they are on the internet and listen out for anything that you feel may be inappropriate.

 

As parents, sadly it is no longer enough just to do our due diligence. We need to be proactive in checking up on what our children are doing on line, having open discussions about who they are interacting with and what they are exposing themselves to. The internet can be an exciting place, filled with a never-ending fountain of knowledge and wonder. However, we can't become too complacent thinking that we have all bases covered, because I have learnt that the evil Peppa Pigs of the internet world, can quite easily still slip through!


Tami has worked in the childcare industry for over 20 years.

She worked as Operations Manager for Tinies Central London branch from 2008 - 2013 before she left Tinies to raise her children. She returned to work in 2019, as the Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead and Student Welfare Officer at a London Primary School.

Tami is currently working with the Tinies Brighton team. You can reach out to her at 01273 557 671 or at [email protected].

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